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June 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for June, 2011

Rep. Issa’s Committee Probing ATF Released Sealed Document in Criminal Case

By Allan Lengel

In their apparent zest to learn the truth about a controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious”, and generate public pressure,  staffers working for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) may have gone too far — at least according to committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

The website Talking Points Memo (TPM) reported that Cummings fired off a letter Monday to Rep. Issa saying the committee improperly disclosed a sealed document which could have compromised a criminal investigation.

Cummings letter said Justice Department officials met with committee staffers on May 5 and told them they had wrongly released the document sealed by a federal judge.

“Your staff stated that they were unaware that the document was under seal when they disclosed it to the press, but they discovered the breach soon afterwards,” Cummings wrote in the letter to Issa, according to the website.

“At the conclusion of that meeting, and at the request of the Department, your staff seemed to agree that consultation would help avoid such mistakes in the future.”

TPM said an Issa spokeswoman did not respond for comment. TPM noted that the letter came after Cummings warned at a hearing on Monday that there was a “dangerous potential to compromise criminal prosecutions” when congressional committees looked into active investigations.

“Some committees have conducted investigations during open federal prosecutions, but in these relatively rare cases, committees have consulted meticulously with the Department to ensure that their actions do not negatively affect ongoing prosecutions,” Cummings said.

“For example, they have reached agreements to consult with the Department before publicly releasing documents or reports, to refrain from obtaining documents relating to certain sensitive sources or methodologies, and to secure limited information against public release.”

Interestingly, TPM noted that back in 2007 Issa argued that the Oversight Committee should hold off investigating Blackwater until the State Dept. finished its probe. The Dems had pushed for the investigation.

“We’re supposed to allow the administration to do its investigation and then we do oversight,” Issa said at the time, according to TPM. “We’re not investigators.”

FBI Forensic Team sent to Yemen to Investigate Attack on Prez Compound

By Allan Lengel

An FBI forensic team has been sent to Yemen to investigate the attack on the presidential compound that wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the website Global Post reported.

“The FBI is aiding Yemeni law enforcement in their investigation in the attack on the presidential compound. The FBI team arrived in Sanaa last Wednesday,” said a senior Yemeni government official, according to the website.

The website said that the request underscores the close relationship between Yemen and the U.S.

News reports had initially said that the attack might have been the work of a rival tribal group. But some reports say the FBI will be looking at whether al Qaeda was involved, or someone within the presidential circles.

“They are concerned about how the attack was carried out. Everyone is a suspect,” the Yemeni official said, according to the website.

Insurance Firm Isn’t Giving Up on Collecting Money After FBI Agent Smashed $750,000 Ferrari

Latest model of Ferrari F50

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT –– The case of the smashed up $750,000 Ferrari simply won’t go away for the FBI and the Justice Department.

Reporter Ed White of the Associated Press reports that a Southfield, Mi. insurance firm, which is suing the feds to recover money from the crash,  is wondering about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident. FBI agent Fred Kingston was driving the stolen 1995 F-50 Ferrari when he crashed it in 2009.

The car had been stolen in 2003 from Rosemont, Pa. and was recovered in Kentucky five years later.

AP reports that Motors Insurance said in a court document filed last week that there was “good reason” to believe that an FBI agent and a federal prosecutor “were taking an extremely rare and exceedingly fast Ferrari out for a joyride.” The car was in the custody of federal authorities after it was recovered.

AP reported that the U.S. Justice Department has claimed it has civil immunity from paying for the smashed car.

The Justice Department had released an email from Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson, who was a passenger, AP reported. It said he was invited for a “short ride” before the Ferrari was to be moved from an impound garage, AP reported.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn met privately with both sides on Monday, AP reported. The news agency said the Justice Department declined comment.


Column: We Didn’t Learn Much New from the Hearing on Controversial ATF Program

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel

We’re supposed to learn something from Congressional hearings.

I’m not sure we learned all that much on Monday when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing  with legal experts to determine what the committee  can demand from ATF and the Justice Department in terms of documents and information on “Operation Fast and Furious”  through the use of subpoenas, contempt or requests.

Essentially, we learned that yes (we already knew this) a Congressional oversight committee has the right to demand information from the Justice Department and ATF on the program, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to  straw purchasers — all with the hope of tracing those weapons to the Mexican cartels.  Unfortunately, authorities say some of those weapons ended up being used in crimes,  including in the murder of border agent Brian Terry.

Experts told us  Monday it helped if the committee demands for information were bipartisan; that the committee should talk, demand and negotiate for documents, but be careful as not to screw up any pending investigations. Experts warned it was better to press, but avoid if possible, holding ATF and Justice in contempt, if only to avoid long, drawn out battles.

“This is not a love-making process,”  Charles Tiefer, former counsel to Congress, emphasized during testimony. In other words, Congress doesn’t have to play too nice.

Rep. Issa already knew that. But he’s very very frustrated.

“The administration has not yet to come to recognize the role this committee plays in preserving the rule of law to eliminate waste and fraud and abuse in the federal government,” Rep. Issa said during the hearing. “I’ve worked closely with Sen. Chuck Grassley to get to the bottom of the strategy by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to allow heavy duty arms to traffic into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

“ATF field agents opposed this reckless program, which has been responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians in Mexico and even responsible for the death of a 40-year-old border patrol agent named Brian Terry.”

In the end, we need to know a few things:  How was such a poorly thought out program approved and by who? And how many guns were released and how many ended up being used in crimes, including murder?

It’s hard to believe the Justice Department hasn’t yet coughed up that info. Finding out which crimes are linked to the program may take a fair amount of investigative work — something that can’t be produced in a little hearing.  And there may be no way of definitively figuring out every crime. Still,  investigators can come up with a snapshot.

But finding out who ultimately approved the program ain’t that hard. Really.

Give me a few hours. Let me  wander  the inner sanctum of the Justice Department on Pennsylvania Avenue  and I’ll come up with some answers and eliminate some of these hearings.

Sure, Monday’s hearing  may lay the foundation for the committee to get even tougher.

But there’s got to be an easier way to find the truth from an organization called “Justice.”

No Surprise: Senate Report Says U.S. Guns Going to Mexican Drug Traffickers at Alarming Rate; Makes Recommendations

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel

Certainly this comes as no surprise.

A Congressional report released Monday concludes that American military-style weapons are arming Mexico’s violent drug organizations at an alarming rate and policy makers are not adequately responding.

“Congress has been virtually moribund while powerful Mexican drug trafficking organizations continue to gain unfettered access to military-style firearms coming from the United States,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of three Senators who issued the report. The others were Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“New ATF data provided last week reveals that more than 70 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes and traced by Mexican officials actually originated in the United States<” Feinstein said.

Sen. Schumer added:  “This report confirms what many of us already know to be true: although the Senate’s recently passed border measure will help make our Southern border safer, it is still too easy for Mexican drug lords to get their hands on deadly military-grade weapons within our borders. “We need to redouble our efforts to keep violent firearms out of the hands of these traffickers.”

The report recommends legislation to make it tougher to buy weapons at guns shows: better enforcement of the existing ban on imports of military-style weapons; reinstatement of the expired Assault Weapons Ban; reporting by Federal Firearms Licensees on all multiple firearms sales; and Senate ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA).

Read report

Column: Mother of FBI Agent Says Agency Did Daughter Wrong: Questions Whether FBI Dir. Mueller Should Get Extension

Irene Foley is the mother of FBI agent Theresa Foley, the first full-time female FBI agent to be stationed at Guantanamo. Theresa Foley has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, saying she was made to bunk with vermin that gave her a tropical disease. Theresa Foley has undergone multiple surgeries since contracting the  disease and has been disabled and is living with her parents. She claims her disease was made worse when the FBI refused to let her stand and instead made her kneel in the traditional stance during firearms qualification.

The lawsuit also says she was ostracized for refusing to join in a “spring break” atmosphere in which agents were encouraged to drink, date and frolic during off hours. Her lawsuit alleges sexual discrimination and harassment,  employment discrimination based on disability and gender and retaliation.   Irene Foley now says Director Robert S. Mueller was unresponsive to the family regarding  her daughter’s problems and questions whether he should get a two-year extension.

Theresa Foley/family photo

By Irene Foley

I am writing regarding the stories and news that FBI Director Robert Mueller would be extending his term. I am from a law enforcement family, a son and daughter-in-law, who are Police Officers, and more to the point, a daughter, who is an FBI Agent, Theresa Foley.

I feel I must comment as a Mother at this stage, personally, regarding the extension of Director Mueller. After reading his statement before the Judiciary, on everything that is right with the FBI, I couldn’t help but note, no queries on what is wrong.

As noted, I am the Mother of an FBI Special Agent, Theresa Ann Foley. She has been in our care, since her return from Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2004. She will soon be undergoing her 8th surgery due to the actions, of “a contingent of bad agents”.

This statement was relayed to us by a former Associate Deputy Director. Her story is well known to those in “leadership” at the FBI. However, that leadership failed this family greatly.

Theresa was the first, full-time female Agent assigned to Guantanamo. The housing she was placed in was the worst, we were told, badly infested with rats in a condition that should have been condemned.

Due to this, Theresa contracted the rat borne illness Leptospirosis. This has all been documented. Due to over exposure it went into a “stage three”.

Additionally, Theresa was treated as documented by management and fellow agents, in a manner, which should not be acceptable or allowed in the FBI.

This treatment led to a horrific incident in May 2004 regarding firearms. Again, this has all been documented. This, compounded with months of “bad behavior”, lead Theresa to be returned to us extremely ill and in our care, since July 2004.

Read more »

Justice Dept.’s Elite Team That’s Going After Edwards Walks a Fine Prosecutorial Line

By Jerry Markon
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s decision to charge former presidential candidate John Edwards with campaign finance violations drew criticism from legal experts, including some former prosecutors, that the case was too aggressive.

In the months before the indictment, the Justice Department took flak from government watchdogs for dropping corruption investigations of members of Congress. They argued that the government was not aggressive enough, and gun-shy from the collapse of its case against the late senator Ted Stevens .

Prosecutors at the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, whose mission is to probe corruption in government, “are in a very difficult position,’’ said Peter Zeidenberg, a former Public Integrity prosecutor.

To read full story click here.

Terrorist Behind U.S. Embassy Bombings in 1998 in Africa is Killed

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

He escaped the long reach of the U.S. for 13 years. He was on the FBI’s Top Ten Terrorist List.  And there was a $5 million reward for his capture.

Last week, a bullet ended all of that.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the organizer of the 1998 terrorist bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, was shot and killed Wednesday after refusing to stop at a government checkpoint in Mogadishu, the London Guardian reported.

The paper said Mohammed,37, was fluent in five languages and was “adept at disguise.”

“He also used his expertise in finance and logistics to assist al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose recent successes in Yemen contrast with the reverses suffered by the franchise elsewhere,” the paper wrote.

The paper reported that Mohammed was military commander of al-Shabab, a militia group vying for power in Somalia.